• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Brexit referendum
Italy wants UK to stay but will march on with fellow founders
Dutch PM Mark Rutte (L) meets his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi in The Hague, on February 5, 2016. Italy and the Netherlands remain committed to "ever closer union". Photo: Michel Porro/ANP/AFP

Italy wants UK to stay but will march on with fellow founders

AFP · 10 Feb 2016, 09:25

Published: 10 Feb 2016 09:25 GMT+01:00

London has demanded an opt-out from the "ever closer union" principle enshrined in the EU's treaties as part of reforms it wants to agree before holding a referendum on its membership of the bloc.
   
At informal talks in Rome, the foreign ministers of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands issued a joint communique in which they admitted to being "concerned about the state of the European project".
   
They said the EU was facing "very challenging times" due to the migration crisis and the threat posed by terrorism.
   
And they insisted that, for them, the answer lay in more, not less integration while also acknowledging that not every country in what is now a 28-member bloc should have to agree.
   
"We firmly believe that the European Union remains the best answer we have for today's challenges and allows for different paths of integration," the communique read.
   
"We remain resolved to continue the process of creating an ever closer union among the people of Europe."
   
Tuesday's dinner meeting was called by Italy, whose centre-left government has made it clear it wants a core of EU countries to forge ahead with steps towards further integration, with moves towards a banking union, tighter fiscal harmonization and increased political and security cooperation the areas where they see change as most desirable.
   
Rome has also indicated that it is relaxed with countries like Britain limiting their engagement with the EU to essentially being part of a large free trade area - an option Italian officials say they would much prefer to the unpredictable scenario of a "Brexit", as Britain's possible departure has been dubbed.

Brexit referendum looms

British Prime Minister David Cameron is hoping to tie down a package of reforms at a summit of EU leaders on February 18-19th.

Story continues below…

If he succeeds, he is expected to move quickly to hold an in-out referendum in which he will argue that membership no longer poses a threat of further erosion of British sovereignty.
   
A two-speed EU is already a reality to an extent, with only 19 of the 28 member states having adopted the euro single currency - although all the other countries, except Britain and Denmark, are theoretically committed to working towards joining.
   
But the idea of formally enshrining the "two-speed" principle has long been taboo among supporters of deeper integration who often argue that the Union is like a bicycle which can only balance when it is moving forward.
   
Italy meanwhile will ask its citizens how they want to see the EU develop via an online consultation to be launched on February 12th, parliamentary speaker Laura Boldrini announced earlier on Tuesday.
   
The six-question survey will seek to establish what Italians see as the EU's strengths and weaknesses, the areas in which it could do more, how it could be more efficient and how to reform its institutions.
   
"We are facing major challenges - climate change, terrorism, migration - and no state can face them alone," Boldrini said in comments which reflect the view of much of the Italian political class but not necessarily those of voters.
   
"United we can influence events, divided we become totally insignificant."

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Rome cracks down on splash-happy fountain dippers
Rome's fountains may seem tempting, but bathing is forbidden. Photo: TrastevereRM/Delilah Jay/Sean Mcentry

Cooling off with a midnight dip in Rome's famous Trevi Fountain may sound like a dream "Roman Holiday", but an Italian police crackdown has landed a series of splash-happy tourists with fat fines.

Panama Papers show Italian bribes' path to Algeria
A plaque outside the offices of Geneva-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Law firm Mossack Fonseca created companies through which the Milan oil services company Saipem SpA allegedly paid €250 million to win €9.1 billion in oil and gas deals.

Plane of US WW2 pilot finally found near Bologna
The P-47 Thunderbolt in action. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The final resting place of an American Second World War fighter pilot has been found by Italian amateur archaeologists near Bologna.

Only a quarter of Italian towns host refugees: study
Just 2,026 of the country's 8,000 municipalities currently host migrants on humanitarian grounds. Photo: Gabriel Buoys/AFP

In spite of Italy's position on the front line of the Mediterranean refugee crisis, just one in four of Italy's municipalities has housed refugees and asylum seekers.

Turin could slash Wi-Fi over 'radiation' concerns
Turin hopes to reduce potentially harmful radiation from wireless modems. Photo: Scott Beale/Maelic/Flickr

Turin is planning to cut back on Wi-Fi in state schools and government buildings over concerns that radiation might damage people's health.

Italy could make it legal to grow your own weed
Italy's parliament will begin debating new cannabis laws on Monday. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP

Italy could legalise home-grown cannabis, if a law being debated on Monday gets the green light.

Italy has 'no banking problem': finance minister
"All the countries should relax: there is no Italian banking problem," Padoan said. Photo: AFP

Italy does not have a problem with its banks, finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan said Sunday, despite investors fretting about nearly $400 billion of bad debts weighing down the sector.

Pope Francis visits Poland amid security concerns
"Refugees? The pope will say something on that," Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican ambassador to Poland said. Photo: AFP

Pope Francis lands in Poland on Wednesday amid heavy security for an international Catholic youth festival where he is expected to make the case for welcoming refugees, a thorny issue for Warsaw.

Italy hosts first Down's Syndrome 'Olympics'
The athletes taking part are dubbed T21s, named after the most common form of Down's Syndrome, trisomy 21. Photo: AFP

The roar from the stands in Florence could not have been louder if it had been stars Usain Bolt or Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce on the track.

Why Milan could be Europe's post-Brexit financial hub
Milan is vying to be Europe's post-Brexit financial and business hub. Photo: Melanie Bowman

Milan has also joined the race among European cities to pick up the post-Brexit spoils should London’s financial institutions choose to shift their operations elsewhere. But is it a viable contender?

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Italian hotspots struggling with 'too many tourists'
Culture
Meet the Italian chef behind the world's best restaurant
Travel
Escape the heat at one of these beautiful Italian lakes
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Why the UK is now officially crazier than Italy
Culture
How you can stay cool like an ancient Roman
Lifestyle
Food for thought: fight on to save Med diet from extinction
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
From asylum seeker in Italy to organic yoghurt entrepreneur
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Fifteen maps that tell the story of Italy
National
Why Italy might be the next big threat to the EU's future
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Politics
Post Brexit, less than a third of Italians want to leave EU
Politics
The bright side of Brexit: the 'good news' for Brits in Italy
Culture
Eight wonderful things to do in Italy in July
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Six of the best places to visit within easy reach of Rome
British business owners in Italy feel Brexit jitters
National
How to get Italian citizenship (or at least stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Where does Britain's exit from the EU leave Italy?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Politics
Has the time come for Italy’s Five Star Movement to shine?
Society
Why Italy must change after young woman’s brutal murder
Politics
Is Italy's Five Star up to the challenge of running Rome?
Culture
Six of the most bizarre Italian foods everyone should try
2,557
jobs available